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Finally one village in Punjab realizes it

Mehtab Singh

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Otalana shows the way

Respect for girl child

Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Samrala, August 6

Otalana village, at a short distance from here, has a different and inspiring story about girl child. The girl child is held in high esteem in the village. Before starting a new work, blessings of the girl child or unmarried girl, are sought by all families in the village. “ Whenever we wear new clothes , we first touch feet of the girl with clothesâ€, says Darbara Singh, a village elder. “ It is a custom in our villageâ€, he adds.

At the main entrance of the village, huge “ darwajaâ€( an arch- shaped gate) has been bult in the memory of a girl, who, it is said, had preferred ending life for her and village’s honour four centuries ago. “ Khera -dhee-dhiani( village of girl) has been inscribed in Punjabi on the front arch of the structure. “ Dhee-dhiani in Punjabi is used to give respect to a girlâ€, says Behari Lal Saddi, a retired teacher and writer of the village.

“Long back our elders constructed 12 such structures in the village. Six of them are intact and others are in a poor shape. We have decided to reconstruct all those againâ€, says Shamsher Singh, a retired police official of the village. “ The main entrance structure had also collapsed but its roof was recently replacedâ€, adds the police official.“ When the main entrance structure was partially rebuilt sometime back, first brick was laid by seven village girls and Prito, who is an old woman now called “ bhua†by the entire villageâ€, says Dr Harbans Singh, sarpanch of the village.

All these structures are dedicated to girls. Centuries ago, it is said, Nawab of Sirhind had taken a village girl away with the intention to marry her. However, she refused. Before ending her life, she called her brothers and told them to give a message to all people in the village to hold girls in high esteem. Since them, it has become a tradition to seek blessings of a girl before starting a work. Each year, in the last week of August a festival is held in the village in the memory of that girl. On that day community kitchen of sweets is held.

No marriage party of the village boy leaves for bride’s place without paying obeisance at the memorial raised for the girl at the main entrance of the village.

On female foeticide in the village, Dr Harbans Singh said he had not heard about any case so far in this regard. “ Our village appears to be above board in this regardâ€, he adds. Every village can become Otalana provided an initiative is taken by wise men of the state in this regard.

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Personally speaking, if I come to know that a relative of mine in India has murdered his/her unborn child, I and my family completely break our relationship with that sinful person. I think people who murder their child like this, are the most pathetic people on the face of this world. They are bigger sinners than the likes of KPS Gill in my opinion, and deserve to be tried for murder in court.

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Whilst I agree with you that is it the most terrible crime, I think we in the west abscond from our role in the murders, it is due to our extravagent weddings over here, that the many rvaaj of dhaaj, parties, meat/sharaab etc have become the norm again in Punjab. A poor farmer has to sell all his land (or mortgage it) just to marry off his daughter.

I blame irresponsible people in the west equally if not more for these murders, having to face starvation and no roof over your head because you have a daughter is no laughing matter.

Again I agree it is the most henious crime, but the ones that have to commit are indeed unfortunate due to social/peer pressure and lack of dharam - the thousands who go to India to find a girl every month and then expect full monty weddings are the real Evil culprits, closely followed by those (the ignorant majority) who still have expensive weddings in the UK and thus set the trends in India.

Huge respect to Baba Ram Singh Namdhari for enforcing the simple wedding maryada which is still adhered to across the Namdhari community today - who I would say are completely if not mostly exempt from this evil.

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I agree with you Shaheediya. Baba Raam Singh Jee Namdhari is a true hero and social reformer. I wish people could just have simple weddings. Sikhs Sikh sects and Jathas perform simple weddings like Taksal, AKJ. The Taksal that existed during Sant Jarnail Singh Jee's period was amazing in this respect. Back then so many Singhs in Taksal did inter caste marriages, and simple weddings.

For me, simple wedding does not have to mean we discard our culture such as the ceremonies, songs and dances, that women in the family get togather to do. But the amount of money Punjabi people spend is just outright wrong. Poor Jats in Punjab have to literally sell some of their Jameen to perform the wedding of their daughter which also includes Dhaaj worth atleast 10 lakhs of rupees now days if they want a good home for their daughter. That is just wrong! wrong! wrong!

Most NRIs are especially bastards because when they come to Punjab for marriage, then actually take Dhaaj. how pathetic is that! Some who don't take Dhaaj, accept Len-Dhen. Len Dhen is when the girl's family has to give expensive gifts to the family members of the boy's family. In my opinion Len Dhen is just another form of Dhaaj, which doesn't sound as negative as Dhaaj. But if some people who refuse to take Dhaaj, but accept Len Dhen are just deceiving themselves into thinking they are not part of the problem.

It's almost like in India, the new word for bribery is "donation". They use terms like Donation because words like Rishwat sounds too negative. Similarly have no doubt about it, Len Dhen IS PART OF DHAAJ, so please don't do Len Dhen when you marry your wife.

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